Poppy boycott was McClean's decision - Sunderland

Sunderland winger James McClean's decision not to wear a remembrance poppy to commemorate Great Britain's war dead was a personal choice, his club explained on Sunday.

The Republic of Ireland international, who was born in Northern Ireland, played in his side's 2-1 loss at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday but elected not to wear a shirt with a poppy motif, as his team-mates did.

McClean's decision sparked heated debate on Twitter -- some users criticising him, while others supported his right to choose -- and Sunderland revealed that the decision was made solely by the player.

"As a club, SAFC wholeheartedly supports the Remembrance commemorations," read a club statement.

"It was James' personal choice not to wear a shirt (with a poppy) on this occasion."

McClean, 23, found himself the target of abuse from fans earlier this year when he decided to play for the Republic of Ireland, rather than Northern Ireland.

He was also forced to apologise in September after taking to Twitter to criticise Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni for leaving him on the bench during a 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory in Kazakhstan.

McClean has been named in Trapattoni's squad for Wednesday's friendly against Greece in Dublin.

Artificial poppies are worn in Britain and countries from the Commonwealth to mark Remembrance Sunday, when soldiers who have died in war are remembered.

Some Irish nationalists refuse to wear a poppy in protest at the actions of the British army during the Troubles, when thousands of people were killed during violence opposing Irish republicans and unionists loyal to Britain.